Google is doing the brilliant thing of bringing its Nexus-exclusive apps to the entire Android spectrum. Since the release of KitKat, Google’s accelerated these app releases.
Even though I’ve been using the sideloaded version of Google+ Hangouts for about 3 weeks, I noticed today that the app has a new update that officially allows Hangouts to replace your default text messaging program.
Of course, there will be some
tin foil hat folks who are scared about using Hangouts for default SMS. I’m not worried because Google and the NSA already know my habits. Plus, my text messages aren’t that secure — I’d never send client confidential messages via text message — and usually deal with Mrs. The Droid Lawyer asking when I’ll be home.
Setting Hangouts to replace your default text messaging app is easy. Click the Menu in the upper right-hand corner, then select Settings.
Next, select SMS from the Settings menu:
You’ll have the option to Turn on SMS and make other settings adjustments.
That’s it. Once you associate Hangouts, the app should automatically act as your SMS client.
I like using Hangouts because the app acts as my unified messaging center. Hangouts allows me to send text, chat or video message all from one source. If my contacts have a Google account, I can chat and video conference with them, and not have to give out my cell phone number.
Thus, I can still communicate with creepy guys like Lawyerist’s, Sam Glover, without worrying whether he’s going to send me a ton of text messages — kidding! Of course, with unlimited text messages, overusing isn’t really a concern.
Hangouts isn’t perfect, such as the fact I’d love to automatically associate Google accounts with phone numbers, but I’m sure improvements will be forthcoming over time.
Overall, I give Hangouts 4 of 5 stars.
Update: I hadn’t really had many opportunities to group text. But today, I had a series of about three different group texts. Hangouts is the first real text messaging app that properly handles group messaging. Instead of breaking each one separately, or incorrectly displaying the sender, Hangouts groups the message together for great delivery.
Update: Several people are confused about the cost of Hangouts, so here’s the skinny:
- Text messages are charged at standard text messaging rates. Thus, if you send a message to another cell phone (i.e. 555-555-5555 to 555-555-5552) you will be charged for sending the message. Most people shouldn’t be concerned, since by now you’ve upgraded to your carrier’s unlimited voice and text plan.
- Chat messages (i.e. Hangouts user to Hangouts user) are sent via the internet, therefore, there’s no cost. Thus if your friend has a Hangouts (Google+) account, you can talk back and forth without incurring fees.
You’ll know whether your message is being sent through Hangouts or by text (SMS) from looking at the sender’s information on the top of the message.